I recently hauled out about 35 8mm video tapes of my family going back to when Tommy was born. The early ones are grainy, not great quality–they are after all about 23 years old and technology has surely changed!–but at least we have some memories. The more recent ones are bright, exciting, lively, captivating. Poor Tommy–it’s easier to be more interested in the videos of Tara and even more, Mary, born only 16 years ago, than in his old tapes. Maybe it has to do with the tape quality, but maybe it has to do with all the stress we were under from that time, as we spent a lot of time worrying, in the hospital, and under a lot of pressure. There weren’t as many videos either.
Now I am converting them all to my iMovie, backed up on external hard drives, digitized and immortalized for all time. I can edit them, look at them at my leisure, add titles, special effects, voice over’s… even improve their quality. You definitely feel a sense of closure when you have secured your family’s history.
This is also what Barry Haarde is doing–preserving our hemophilia history by creating the “Hemophilia Archive,” collecting in a website everything he can find related to hemophilia. It’s a daunting task, but he is compiling what will be the best and most definitive collection of hemophilia videos, newspaper articles and books.
Barry’s work was just profiled in my newsletter PEN, and he starts our article by asking who is Ryan White? Excellent question. We have a new generation, raised on excellent products, prophylaxis and tons of educational materials and social support, that hopefully will never endure what our children endured (extreme ignorance? Remember there wasn’t internet, Google or even a book on hemophilia in 1987!) or what the previous generation endured: HIV, hepatitis C, the deaths of thousands of fine young men.
Barry is a man on a mission. I urge everyone to sign up to receive his installments of the hemophilia archives, and to contribute something. Recently, I sent him the first two copies of PEN, started in 1991. Very amusing; a total circulation of 50 and Xeroxed. I also sent him the cover to the People magazine produced the week my son with hemophilia was born. Right on the cover is breaking news about the Ray brothers (do you remember them?) who were fire-bombed out of their trailer home in Florida, because the three boys had hemophilia and HIV.
Barry and his older brother John were born with hemophilia and each contracted HIV. John died, as did Barry’s brother in law. Barry is creating the Hemophilia Archive to preserve the memories of our past. Our past, the mass contamination of thousands, is truly unique in the annals of medical history. Each life deserves to be remembered.
Coincidentally, I am going this week to see the Boston premiere of “Bad Blood,” the new documentary about the HIV contamination of the 1980s. I’ve seen it already, have reviewed it in this issue of PEN, and on Wednesday night will take my family to see it. I urge you all to see it as well, and to help Barry build his archives.
Take a break from your own home movie archives, as I will, or from recording the present–Thanksgiving, hockey games, school plays– to help our community preserve its precious past. Do you have memories, clippings and photos to share with Barry? Contact him here: email@example.com and get on his newsletter. And thanks to people like Barry and Bad Blood director Marilyn Ness for helping to preserve our past. (Archived photo of Laurie and Brian Craft, our hemophilia comedian, another fallen hero)